GoHuskies.com unveils a new weekly feature that will promote the University's student-athletes who continue to shine both in and out of the classroom. Below is an interview with UW Baseball's sophomore catcher, Austin Rei.
GoHuskies.com: Entering the Oregon week you were ranked third in hitting in Pac-12 action. Catchers aren’t supposed to be hitters, is that a misnomer?
Austin Rei: Everything feels good, so I’m riding on cloud nine, but as far as my position goes it’s more of a defensive position especially with the way the game is now in collegiate baseball. Defense comes first, hitting comes second.
GoHuskies.com: Are you surprising yourself with how well you’re hitting the ball or were you expecting this?
Rei: A little bit. I’ve always been more of a streaky hitter, but the fact that I’ve been putting a couple hits together each game has been really encouraging for me so it’s given me a lot of confidence.
GoHuskies.com: You have thrown out the last six guys that have tried to steal on you. How important as it for you as a catcher to get streaks like this and keep the streaks going?
Rei: The streaks are nice, it makes you feel good but at the same time it’s helping your team out any way you can. If those guys are going to try to run on me I’m going to welcome them and greet them rudely with a throw out at second base.
GoHuskies.com: Catchers have a reputation of being the tough guys on the team or the guy that has a few screws loose. Are you that guy?
Rei: Yeah, there is definitely a different reputation apart from the rest of the guys on the team because we go through nine innings of getting balls in the dirt and kind of beating your body up in every way possible. It’s a different mentality but it’s always fun either way.
GoHuskies.com: What would you rather do, throw a guy trying to get a steal against you or get a 2-run RBI?
Rei: I’ve always had pride in my defense so throwing a guy out is always the best feeling you can have as a catcher, at least for me, so I would probably go with the defensive side.
GoHuskies.com: But you have to score to win.
Rei: Yes you do, but defense is the best offense.
GoHuskies.com: When you go out and talk to the pitcher in the game, do you always talk business or do you sometimes talk about random things?
Rei: Oh yeah, absolutely, I remember in summer a couple years ago, my coach came out there and he didn’t say a word for two minutes straight and he just walked back to the dugout. I’ve taken a different route than that. There have been a couple times when I’ve gone out to the mound and asked them what they’re having for dinner. I told him I had an enchilada and maybe a few would say they had nachos or something like that. So you can have fun with it, absolutely.
GoHuskies.com: Is there a catcher that you model your game after that you really look up to?
Rei: I’ve always looked at Pudge (Ivan Rodriguez); he’s done this for so long. He’s out of the game now, but he’s a guy that I grew up watching when I was a kid. He had a hose, he hit for a high average, and he basically did everything the coaches would ask of him and that’s what I want to model my game after.
GoHuskies.com: Pudge has a great nickname do you have a great nickname?
Rei: I don’t have a great nickname, just R-E-I is the only funny one.